Sunday, 31 January 2016

Success for the 2016 Garden Birdwatch

The success was that there were actually birds in the garden to count during my one hour by the window for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this morning! I had no expectations when I began, given the very quiet feeders due to the frequency of recent Sparrowhawk visits. Also, as many bloggers will report, when it comes to this particular counting hour the birds usually have a garden break - so this was a proper turnaround :-)

Given the small trees, tall plants and structures in my garden, the Sparrowhawk has some serious manoeuvring to do. Some plants in pots have been deliberately put in his way too. He uses a variety of routes through the garden but the most recent has him flying along the length of my gardenwatching window just missing the glass and no more. I cannot deny he is very impressive in flight. I also cannot deny I am happy he had a garden break today.


Male Blackbird feeding newly fledged chick. Image taken May 18th, 2014.
I’ve noticed that the parents will take bread over seed if both available.


Taking the Sparrowhawk out of the equation, how did the birdwatch count go? Well, I'm delighted to report that the Blackbird took top spot in my garden. I really am. Sadly, this is the bird I most often see the Sparrowhawk feed on in my garden. I'm guessing there must be healthy population in the area which is the positive side to this. Today's count was taken between 10:30am and 11:30am.


6x BLACKBIRDS (5x males and 1 female), image taken June 28th, 2014.
Gardening wouldn't be the same without Blackbirds running around.


4x GOLDFINCHES (all weather birds). Image taken December 23rd, 2009.
Nice to see them back again. Groups usually appear in cold weather.


2x BLUE TITS (favourite garden tree). Image taken November 30th, 2008.
Feeders removed from this Acer, without leaves no cover from Sparrowhawk.


1x CHAFFINCH (female on right). Image taken January 22nd, 2008.
No proper hard frosts here this winter so far – frosts bring lots of birds in.


1x COAL TIT (speedy little birds). Image taken November 16th, 2010.
Often hides seeds in pine tree - the Blue tit has been seen copying it.


1x DUNNOCK (forages under hedge). Image taken November 9th, 2008.
Known as a shy ground feeder but will visit bird tables for seeds too


1x JACKDAW (very intelligent birds). Image taken May 17th, 2010.
Usually feeds at peanut feeders on feeder tree - not in garden borders.


1x WOODPIGEON (slightly clumsy birds). Image taken May 4th, 2014.
Always seen walking through garden borders – they can take over bird tables.


1x ROBIN (successfully nested in 2015). Image taken December 19th, 2007.
Known as the gardener’s friend – turns up when there is work to be done.


So to summarise, that’s 20 birds in total counted over 9 different species. Is that a true reflection of regular garden visitors? Species wise not too bad. Numbers wise, definitely could be more - especially with the Coal tits who are always buzzing about. Also there are currently two regular Blue tit and Great tit pairs and as per usual the fight for renting the camera nestbox will be between this two species.

Chaffinches were noticeably missing this year which is a first as they usually battle it out with the Blackbirds for top spot here. I'm pretty certain the weather will have had an impact on numbers this year. Here, Chaffinches come to the garden in good numbers with cold and snow but we had very strong winds with our snow on Saturday and today wasn't quite so cold.

It's very late as I post this tonight, I'll get to blog browsing tomorrow to see other birdwatch results. I wonder if 2016 will show a quite different top ten bird species here in the UK. The results of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch are usually out in mid to late March so we will have to wait until then. Meantime, we need to remember to submit our results by the deadline (need to research website further for that) and a fuller picture of the UK's bird population can be made.


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in January 2016.

10 comments:

Julie @Dragonfly Gems said...

Lovely post with some lovely photos.. I did the birdwatch on Saturday and like you was surprised at how many turned up as like you said they normally do a disappearing act during the hour. We had a sparrow hawk land in the garden last week but flew off before I could get a photo.

L said...

I wasn't so lucky with my count. The hour I chose was very windy and wet, but I think that neighbours who don't feed the birds as regularly as I do, lured them away! Anyway it gave me time to assess what needs doing in the garden.

Brian Skeys said...

I think the high winds have reduced the birds visiting the feeders, they come in numbers when it is raining.

Pauline said...

Good selection of visitors to your garden, glad to see that the sparrowhawk stayed away this time! We both had similar birds, with similar numbers, it will be interesting to see the results when they come out.

Shirley said...

Hello again to you all, thanks for popping by and leaving your comments. :-) We are having some seriously strong winds here tonight with risk of structural damage to house and garden. Hope it’s better with you.

Julie, thank-you, I enjoyed reading your post on your count today too. Uncomfortably I’ve video of the Sparrowhawk here (I wanted to find out which bird it had taken) with a recent Blackbird meal. I’d rather have slo mo footage (not really possible with my basic camera) of the Spqrrowhawk flying through my garden without any prey.

L, ah, the wind and rain have been a problem here today too – a garden quiet of birds with the sound of noisy gusts getting louder as they have got stronger. I believe you have something there on people who don’t normally feed birds doing so for the count. It has to influence our counts. Garden planning is a great way to fill the quiet times on a bird count - I hope you got some good ideas :-)

Brian, I would agree with you there. I’ve also observed here that Sparrowhawks go hunting in the garden on windy, wet days so that too will reduce bird numbers at the feeders.

Pauline, I was pleased as bird numbers at the feeders just now have plummeted. I’ve missed seeing them. Perhaps the Sparrowhawk had a bigger number of gardens to hunt in as others joined in with food for the count.

Sue Garrett said...

Our overall total was much lower than usual too. I really do wonder where all the goldfinches have gone we usually have lots of them but didn't see one and see in the very rarely in the garden at the moment it's all a bit worrying.

Lisa Greenbow said...

I love seeing all your bird pictures. I am happy for you that you had a successful watch.

Anna said...

Oh you certainly had some lovely feathered visitors Shirl and how considerate of your unwelcome visitor to stay away. I wasn't able to count last weekend but have noticed fewer visitors overall this winter. As you suggest it's probably not been cold enough. Fingers crossed that storm 'Henry' didn't do any serious damage in your garden. I hope that you got my email about pots for 'Wendy's Gold' :)

Jane Hoehoegrow said...

What a good variety of birds you recorded, and I love your photos.
We have sparrow hawks too, there were two which fledged from a nest in nearby trees and it was fascinating watching them learn their craft in the skies. My fantail doves were decimated and there was often a pile of white feathers on the lawn, as they are such an easy target. One of the sparrow hawks actually flew into our conservatory and stunned itself on the glass. It was good to get up so close to one, as they are magnificent - as well as being ruthless killers of smaller birds!

Shirley said...

Hello again to you all, thanks for popping by and leaving your comments :-)

Sue, Perhaps the warmer weather at this time meant that birds didn’t need our gardens. I am sorry to hear of your lack of Goldfinches

Lisa, I love sharing them and seeing yours over in Indiana 

Anna, we did, I’ve been doing a little experiment in reducing the Sparrowhawk visitors. It could be working too but there is more tweaking to be done. Thanks, the garden survived Henry but these storms keep coming and getting stronger. It’s gusty again today. Thanks, I did get your emails and Wendy has settled in nicely :-)

Jane, hello, thanks for stopping by. It was a nice variety for my count. I bet it was very interesting to see Sparrowhawks fledge so close to you. Sad to hear of your doves though. We’ve had a stunned Sparrowhawk too and I agree it was great to see it close up. I actually took pictures much to my daughter’s disappointment in me.